Monday, January 2, 2017

Dishonored 2 Review

Revenge Still Solves Everything

  When Dishonored came onto the scene in 2012, it breathed a breath of fresh air into world-building in games. The game allowed players to move through the world in a way that was not seen in games before it on such an excellent level. Different levels were designed in very subtle ways, with the main quests being easy enough to complete and focused, and side quests and upgrades being harder to find. Backstory to the world is hidden in books and the player, choosing to focus on the objective, can breeze by or, without any penalty, slow down and dive into all of the small nuances to the world. This balance is what made the game such a delight and this balance is in full form as Dishonored 2 delivers its outstanding performance.

   It is hard, to give a solid review to the game. On one hand, this game is outstanding. Moments are mine and mine alone. I watched as a guard who discovered me fell to their death without me doing anything, because they were near an edge. I remember taking Clockwork soldiers out after figuring out that spring razors would harm them in a deadly way. I planted stun mines for Witches and hid as they tried to chase me and, one after the next, fell to their deep sleep, and I loved every experience. But the review for this game is tricky, because those are my moments. The game, in setting up player moments, is outstanding. Each mission allows the player to use supernatural powers or pure stealth to sneak through levels. It allows excellent combat from foes who try to flank, and it allows bold, bloody assassinations if the player so chooses to walk that path. Because of the excellent form of the open endedness of this game, the review may not be the same feeling that other players come across while playing, but that is perfectly okay.

   In my play, I chose a low-chaos style with Emily, after all, it is my kingdom and I must put it back together, and doing so in peace seems needed. I was slow and methodical in my approach, as well, choosing to pick up each and every bonecharm and rune as I went. Through the game, I had levels where I ghosted (completely undetected) as well as ones I was detected 80-plus times, all the while, trying to keep the body count as low as possible. In the end, this was my style, because Dishonored, to me, is about stealthy, body hiding ways of not killing your foes. 

  This game, however, finds its footing in the completely inspired level design. As I started, the world of Dishonored welcomed me back, with the same style of art and the same character voices of the land that made it so gross and welcoming in my last outing. Dunwall has been replaced with Karnaca, which, feels more open, more vertical and more alive. In Dunwall, everyone was inside because of the plague, but in Karnaca, you can climb into the buildings that house the bloodflies and the dead bodies, observing the people and their last moments as they fight the leeches that are stealing their life. This world, one that is slowly dying, is the perfect setting for a great outing where our heroes fight through the elements that are slowly getting worse, in the hope to make things better.

  On the last note, that should be found in any conversation of the game, the levels are outstanding. Past setting alone, the design of the levels is near perfection. I will never forget as I was becoming proficient with my super powers, I moved stealthily along, towards my target. I arrived at his house and, as I entered, I was given the true treat of unfolding the Clockwork mansion. The Clockwork mansion, while being one of the best, most visually and mentally engaging levels in video game history, possibly ever, was so profoundly outstanding, that I invited friends to watch rooms change simply because it was excellent. Further, it was the first part of the later piece of the game, which, aside from the mansion itself, included other missions that continue to bend time and space, while feeling somewhat reminiscent of Raven's 2010 Singularity. 

   I intend these reviews to be something of a conversation, a recommendation from a friend with a bit more insight into the game, rather than fully breaking down every aspect of the piece. 

  In this though, it must be noted, the difference from the royalty and the rest of the world never feels fixed. There is a lot of emphasis through the story, especially at the end, that people cannot be royality simply because they are. Leaders are just people who have been chosen to lead, not leading for leadings sake. However, the game never explains Emily or Corvo's association with this lesson. The duo (whoever you play) takes down a whole group of unsavory characters who are all incredibly dangerous, but why? Because they kill for what they want? Because they believe they are above the law, though magic and their given titles? That thought, is no different than the player character, who is doing the same thing as they move through the ranks to undermine 'evil' powers. The conversation of what good leadership is seems lost, especially if the player does choose to embrace higher chaos. 
  
  Magic, is another piece that feels a bit disconnected. The game world, as it is still being established (the series is not even five years old) and magic does not seem to have any sort of checked place. Magic can trap souls, as we have learned in this outing. Magic is given from some other force, to The Outsider, but we do not get to know much about that, leaving more unsure footing for the magic to be built on. Why does Emily have the ability to Shadow Walk, but Corvo cannot? Magic. A bit more explanation, in a world that is so fleshed out in lore and history, otherwise, would have put a number of thoughts and questions to rest.

  I do not talk about what games could be, I talk about what they are, and, in Dishonored 2, we have a game that the player must choose for themselves how it should be formed. The player's ability to think on their feet, know what they want to do and follow through makes or breaks this game, for every player.

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